There are about 4.9 billion people using the internet today, or 62% of the global population. Those are impressive numbers if we consider that only about 6% of the world had access to it in 2000. Today, there are so many people, companies, information, and assets online that we can’t afford to skip the subject “cybersecurity”. Over 53 million people were affected by some sort of cybercrime in 2022, only in the United States.
Global numbers are equally alarming and cyberattacks on businesses had a hefty cost in 2022: $4.35 million. iGaming companies are particularly juicy targets for cybercriminals. After all, they hold quite a lot of money and sensitive information from their clients.
So, investing in cybersecurity isn’t exactly an option for internet gambling companies; it’s essential for the very survival of the business. Here’s how the online gambling business is getting around security issues.
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What Is iGaming?
iGaming is an umbrella term covering different online gambling industry branches. It includes online casinos, software providers of online casino games, poker sites, sports betting sites, and, more recently, eSports.
It’s a massive industry with a market size valued above $63 million in 2022. Moreover, iGaming is an industry set to grow even further in the next few years. The increasing availability of mobile devices and fast internet partially explains this growth.
The legislation about gambling varies significantly across countries. Still, the industry has many regulatory bodies responsible for licensing online gambling sites. Some regulatory bodies enjoy nearly worldwide recognition. Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) are some leading names.
Those licenses guarantee gambling sites meet industry standards of security measures. Yet, cybersecurity isn’t something one buys; it involves a continuing effort toward improvement. After all, cybercriminals get smarter every day.
Cybersecurity Industry – A Brief Overview
The cybersecurity industry was primarily focused on antiviruses back in the 80s. Now, it’s a matter of national security and the forefront of computing science research for new technologies. We live in a world where more and more sensitive information is stored online. Entire fortunes can vanish within the millisecond of a mouse click.
Therefore, more companies and governments worldwide are investing heavily in this field. The cybersecurity industry is expected to reach $162 billion in global market size in 2023. Investments in cybersecurity are justified by the far superior costs of cybercrime, which might reach $8 trillion by the end of 2023.
Cybercrimes are unlikely to fade away; actually, the statistics point in the very opposite direction. So, the future looks bright for the cybersecurity industry, even if not for the best reasons. By 2026, its global market size should cross the $345 billion mark. It means there will be a lot of investment in developing new tools using cutting-edge technology. Ever-smarter hackers push for ever-smarter cybersecurity solutions.
Main Cybersecurity Issues Facing the iGaming Industry
iGaming licenses can’t protect users against cybercrime. Cybercriminals target industry giants and most recently, DraftKings lost $300,000 in a cyberattack. Understandably, financial data theft is one of the main concerns of iGaming companies.
DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks are common and can shut down an online gambling site for hours and days, causing heavy losses. This kind of attack can get around high-standard firewalls and even biometric protection. Even industry-leading firewalls are powerless against high-velocity attacks like DDoS and others.
Financial assets aren’t the only valuable things a cybercriminal can steal from a gambling site in a security breach. Personal information is also valuable on the dark web, and it’s up to the site to protect those who gamble online.
Saving the Game – Investments in Cybersecurity
The appalling number of threats and recorded attacks don’t mean that industry regulators are lenient. Most online casinos and sports betting sites have already reached the market with bank-level cybersecurity. Those threats impose a harsh truth, though. Current solutions, like firewalls and SSL encryption, are no longer enough to prevent a cyberattack.
It means that iGaming companies must invest more to update their cybersecurity systems. Luckily, some pretty effective solutions are already available. Some involve cutting-edge AI and machine learning tools to predict and counter malicious behavior.
Those tools can react to threats in less than one second, actively preventing theft and protecting those who gamble online. Real-time payment monitoring tools and behavioral analytics are proving very effective against DDoS attacks.
Many online sports betting and casino sites are also improving their cybersecurity systems. One way they do so is by investing in blockchain-based solutions. Blockchain is immutable, decentralized, and much more challenging to hack. Additionally, it allows for anonymous transactions and supports cryptocurrencies, one of the rising trends among online banking options.
What Players Can Do – Top Cybersecurity Tips
Although the latest cybersecurity numbers do suggest precaution, you don’t need to stop playing your favorite online casino games. You can do a lot for your safety while enjoying your regular casino site or online sportsbook.
From implementing security measures such as two-step verification or even using VPNs and proxies, there are a number of ways you can ensure your safety online. The tips below are pretty easy to implement and can keep you safe in most cases while gambling online.
Create a Solid Password
Avoid using obvious numerical sequences, names, birth dates, or other personal information. Consider using software for password generation and management. Also, don’t use the same password across multiple accounts, and always create unique ones for new platforms.
Use Reliable Payment Methods
Make sure your payment method is secure. Look for a padlock icon next to the page address; it’s a common sign of trusted banking methods. Make sure that the gambling site you use has SSL encryption.
Avoid Public WiFi
This is a tip for online transactions in general. Public WiFi is less safe than private WiFi. Skilled hackers can steal your information while you’re using public networks. So, never make online payments, deal with other sensitive information or gamble while using public networks.
Take Care with Your Emails
Phishing attacks (those emails with malicious content) are almost as old as the internet itself. Still, they’re pretty effective at preying on distracted victims. So, one of the easiest cybersecurity steps is never opening any content or links sent by unverified or suspicious sources.
Always check whether the gambling site is licensed and steer away from unlicensed ones. Although it isn’t a cybersecurity tip, licenses are mandatory for the best sites. It guarantees they’re up to business security standards.
Learning From the Past – Biggest Attacks on Online Gambling Companies
The cybersecurity environment is a fast-changing landscape. Staying one step behind the criminals can have dire consequences. The attack on DraftKings happened in 2022 and FanDuel was attacked in the same year.
Land-based casinos aren’t safe from these attacks either and have also experienced breaches. With so many assets stored digitally, all types of casinos can become a victim if they aren’t diligent. Check below other cyberattacks that justify the focus on cybersecurity in the iGaming industry.
One of the largest online gambling companies worldwide was also the target of one of the largest data breaches in history. Back in 2017, hackers preyed on a vulnerability in the 888’s security systems. Sensitive information of more than 7 million users was exposed in the attack. The company said attackers had access to personal details, credit card details, addresses, etc.
888 immediately notified its customers and also offered guidance to improve their safety. Yet, the damage was done. Millions of users were exposed to identity theft and financial crimes, causing a profound impact on the company’s reputation, also showing the importance of having a top-notch cybersecurity system.
The famous sportsbook brand suffered a DDoS attack during the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League, forcing them offline for 24 hours. Betting terminals weren’t affected by the attack. Otherwise, losses that were already above £4 million could have been even worse.
Important matches happened while the online platform was out, angering many fans. The company apologized for the inconvenience caused by the security breach. Also, it assured its clients that the problem was sorted in a public statement released soon after the incident.
One of the kings of fantasy sports suffered an attack in 2022, resulting in an unauthorized transaction volume of about $300,000. They suffered a “credential stuffing attack.” Here hackers use login credentials from actual users to access their accounts. Those credentials typically include usernames, email addresses, and passwords. Hackers often buy such information on the black market.
The data breach was huge. DraftKings notified its clients that hackers bypassed their cybersecurity system and may have accessed sensitive information. This included credit card numbers, phone numbers, profile pictures, and account balances. Over 67,000 accounts on DraftKings made unauthorized withdrawals in the attack that also affected some FanDuel users.
One of Tasmania’s best operators suffered a ransomware attack in 2021. Ransomware is an increasingly common cyberattack against companies. This kind of attack blocks the company’s system from external users, only liberating after the victim pays the ransom or sum of money to lift the block.
The company wasn’t very clear about the extent of the damage, but insisted that only “non-essential” information was stolen. Their official statement said personal and banking information (such as credit card details) were kept safe by their security system. Details about estimated losses during the outage were never disclosed, nor were the actual costs of the ransom.
SBTech is a leading provider of platforms for online gambling used by several online casinos. So, when it suffered a security breach back in 2020, several online casinos felt the blow. During this period, SBTech shut down its operations to prevent further attacks. This means websites like BetAmerica were also down.
While operations were off, cybersecurity and encryption were compromised. The data breach exposed SBTech’s B2B partners. Again, reports were unclear about the extent of the damage of the attack, which is believed to have been ransomware. Still, the company assures that clients’ sensitive information wasn’t compromised.
Online gambling companies can lose big, even when no money is stolen. Extended outage periods mean that companies will lose the projected income for that period, at best. An online sportsbook unable to receive bets during peak events can lose a lot of money.
The size of the victims and the scale of the damages show that no one is immune to security breaches. Data leaks deal a hard blow to any company’s reputation. After all, who’ll feel safe about providing sensitive information to a company that was proven unable to protect it?
Some companies never fully disclosed the extent and costs of an attack, like Federal Group. Soon after the attack, the Federal Group said its IT team “dealt with it.” Recovering the lost reputation may take longer, though.
The iGaming industry has plenty of excellent reasons to invest in cybersecurity. Hackers might be getting smarter by the day. Yet, the companies that are strong enough to resist them are bound to grow above those that don’t. After all, the taste for online casino gambling isn’t going anywhere. So, investing in cybersecurity isn’t only a matter of responsibility toward client information and assets, it’s also essential for staying in business.